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March 29, 2006

Apr. 10: Litigator Neil Proto talks about the case that opened the courts to environmental citizen suits

WITHOUT REVERENCE FOR AUTHORITY:
Why SCRAP still resonates
Litigator Neil Proto talks about the case that opened the courts to environmental citizen suits

Washington D.C. attorney Neil Thomas Proto has spent 30 years putting teeth, flesh, and blood on the dry bones of the law.

In 1970, he and four other law students formed Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures (SCRAP), defining and crafting arguments to compel recalcitrant government agencies to make the new National Environmental Policy Act a real force in law.
 
Their efforts resulted in one of the most significant oral arguments heard by the Supreme Court during the last 30 years: U.S. v SCRAP, the 1973 case that established standing to sue and opened the courts to environmental citizen suits.
 
Proto will deliver a free public lecture, followed by a booksigning, on Monday, April 10 at 7 p.m. in the Many Nations Longhouse, directly behind the law school on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. He will discuss his book about the famous case, To A High Court: The Tumult and Choices that Led to United States of America. v. SCRAP.

His visit is sponsored by the UO law school’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program. ENR Program Manager Heather Brinton said, “If not for this case, ordinary citizens may have had no legal way to voice their objections to the billboards, malls, mines, and theme parks that continually threaten to overtake the historical and natural areas that make up our birthright. And law students — not experienced attorneys — made it happen!”

Neil Proto has spent the rest of his career developing the theme he established in law school – in 1995, he represented, pro bono, an ad hoc committee of authors and historians in their effort to stop the Walt Disney Company from building a theme park in the Virginia Piedmont, a historic area of rolling hills and small farms near both the Manassas Civil War battlefield and the White House. Within a year, Disney had abandoned the project. 

A year or two before that, Proto represented the
state of Hawaii in  drafting a unique statutory
scheme that resulted in the island of Kaho’olawe returning to the control and use of Native Hawaiians.

Proto is a partner at the international firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, Washington, D.C. office. The firm is known for its complex litigation track record and pro bono work. He has represented both public and private entities in their legal, cultural and political fights for and against dams, malls, prisons, airports, mining operations and the use of natural resources. 

 

Read about the book 

 
-Eliza Schmidkunz 


 

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Oregon Law » Newsroom » Apr. 10: Litigator Neil Proto talks about the case that opened the courts to environmental citizen suits